Understanding Bullying

Bullying, it’s not the subject we want to talk about, no. We all want to be positive and talk about the good things in this world (there are so many ♥); but it is something that happens every day. We need to address it. We need to teach our children not only to NOT bully, but also how to stand up for themselves.

BULLYING involves:

An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity — to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.

Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.


Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:

  • Leaving someone out on purpose
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public

Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:

  • Teasing
  • Name-calling
  • Inappropriate sexual comments
  • Taunting
  • Threatening to cause harm

Need to talk to a counsellor? Call Childline South Africa 24X7 – they are free from all networks:
0800 55 555.

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Bullies don’t disappear when we become adults. Here are some tips to help you if you are dealing with an Adult Bully:

1.  Keep Safe

The most important priority in the face of an adult bully is to protect yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable with a situation, leave. Seek help and support if necessary.

2.  Keep Your Distance and Keep Your Options Open

Not all adult bullies are worth tangling with. Your time is valuable, and your happiness and well-being are important. Unless there’s something critical at stake, don’t expend yourself by trying to grapple with a person who’s negatively entrenched. Whether you’re dealing with a road rage driver, a pushy salesperson, a hostile neighbor, an obnoxious relation, or a domineering supervisor, keep a healthy distance, and avoid engagement unless you absolutely have to.

There are times when you may feel like you’re “stuck” with a very difficult person, and there’s “no way out.” In these situations, think outside the box. Consult with trusted friends and advisors about different courses of action, with your personal well-being as the number one priority. We’re never stuck unless we have blinders on. Keep your options open.

This is so important. You have options, don’t stay stuck!

3.  Keep Your Cool and Avoid Being Reactive

A common characteristic of bullies is that they project their aggression to push your buttons and keep you off balance. By doing so, they create an advantage from which they can exploit your weaknesses.

4.  Know Your Fundamental Human Rights

A crucial idea to keep in mind when you’re dealing with an adult bully is to know your rights, and recognize when they’re being violated.

As long as you do not harm others, you have the right to stand-up for yourself and defend your rights. On the other hand, if you bring harm to others, you may forfeit these rights.  The following are some of our fundamental human rights:

You have the right to express your feelings, opinions and wants.

You have the right to set your own priorities.

You have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty.

You have the right to get what you pay for.

You have the right to have opinions different than others.

You have the right to take care of and protect yourself from being threatened physically, mentally or emotionally.

You have the right to create your own happy and healthy life.

The Fundamental Human Rights are grounded in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, laws in many democratic nations protecting against abuse, exploitation, and fraud, and, if you’re in the United States, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

These Fundamental Human Rights represent your boundaries.

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Sneaky bullies will call you a bully!

When you resist sneaky, manipulative, covert bullies they not only use guilt-trips, they’ll often try to manipulate you by calling your resistance bullying.  They don’t want you standing up for yourself and your standards.  They want you to back down.  They don’t want consequences for their bullying.

Bullies Be Gone

Subtle Signs of Bullying at Work

Deceit. Repeatedly lying, not telling the truth, concealing the truth, deceiving others to get one’s way, and creating false hopes with no plans to fulfill them

Intimidation. Overt or veiled threats; fear-inducing communication and behavior

Ignoring. Purposefully ignoring, avoiding, or not paying attention to someone; “forgetting” to invite someone to a meeting; selectively greeting or interacting with others besides a victim

Isolation/exclusion. Intentionally excluding someone or making them feel socially or physically isolated from a group; purposefully excluding someone from decisions, conversations, and work-related events

Rationalization. Constantly justifying or defending behavior or making excuses for acting in a particular manner

Minimization. Minimizing, discounting, or failing to address someone’s legitimate concerns or feelings

Diversion. Dodging issues, acting oblivious or playing dumb, changing the subject to distract away from the issue, canceling meetings, and avoiding people

Shame and guilt. Making an employee constantly feel that they are the problem, shaming them for no real wrongdoing, or making them feel inadequate and unworthy

Undermining work. Deliberately delaying and blocking an employee’s work, progress on a project or assignment, or success; repeated betrayal; promising them projects and then giving them to others; alternating supportive and undermining behavior

Pitting employees against each other. Unnecessarily and deliberately pitting employees against one another to drive competition, create conflict, or establish winners and losers; encouraging employees to turn against one another

Removal of responsibility. Removing someone’s responsibilities, changing their role, or replacing aspects of their job without cause

Impossible or changing expectations. Setting nearly impossible expectations and work guidelines; changing those expectations to set up employees to fail

Constant change and inconsistency. Constantly changing expectations, guidelines, and scope of assignments; constant inconsistency of word and action (e.g. not following through on things said)

Mood swings. Frequently changing moods and emotions; sharp and sudden shifts in emotions

Criticism. Constantly criticizing someone’s work or behavior, usually for unwarranted reasons

Withholding information. Intentionally withholding information from someone or giving them the wrong information

Projection of blame. Shifting blame to others and using them as a scapegoat; not taking responsibility for problems or issues

Taking credit. Taking or stealing credit for other people’s ideas and contributions without acknowledging them

Seduction. Using excessive flattery and compliments to get people to trust them, lower their defenses, and be more responsive to manipulative behavior

Creating a feeling of uselessness. Making an employee feel underused; intentionally rarely delegating or communicating with the employee about their work or progress; persistently giving employees unfavorable duties and responsibilities


Let me end this on a positive note with 10 Simple ways to build each other up from Becoming Minimalist:

  1. Esteem others higher. 
  2. Be wise in your speech. 
  3. Be encouraging. 
  4. Be quick to forgive. 
  5. Be understanding. 
  6. Zero gossip. 
  7. Share knowledge. 
  8. Stay humble. 
  9. Be positive! 
  10. Love. 

Lastly, Remember…

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